By the time photographer Walker Evans traveled to the cotton fields of Hale County, Alabama in 1936 with his friend, writer James Agee, he had taken thousands of pictures. He would take many thousands later. But the image he captured on that trip of an Alabama sharecropper’s wife named Allie Mae Burroughs would make his career and that of Agee, who wrote the accompanying book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. And for the nation, Burroughs’s unflinching gaze would come to represent the very-real struggle of America’s hard-hit working class during the Great Depression.
Evans traveled extensively through the South during that time as an agent of the Farm Security Administration, and the images he took then remain his most celebrated. An exhibition at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Walker Evans: Depth of Field, examines the larger context of his prolific career. The show includes more than 120 black-and-white and color prints by the photographer, widely considered one of the most accomplished artists of the twentieth-century.
“Our show demonstrates the development of his work over time, from early work on the streets of New York that was influenced by European photography and literature to later when he plumbed the creative possibilities of candid-capture portraiture, meditated on signs, and experimented with color,” says Brett Abbott, curator of photography at the High.
Organized chronologically, the exhibit is perhaps the most comprehensive examination of Evans work ever mounted. The expansive show will travel to Canada and Germany, but the High represents your only chance to see it in the United States. Don’t miss your shot.
Have a sneak peek at a few of our favorite photographs below: